Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day - Haiku

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Christmas Day

this one special day
    continues to make each day
special for everyone

Richard Scutter

Christmas Greetings to all

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Visit from St. Nicholas - Henry Livingston

A Visit from St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all
   through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even
   a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the
   chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would
   be there.
The children were nestled all snug
   in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced
   in their heads.

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in
   my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long
   winter's nap.
When out on the lawn there arose
   such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what
   was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like
   a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up
  the sash.

The moon on the breast of the
   new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to
   objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes
   should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight
   tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively
   and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be
   St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers
   they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called
   them by name!
"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer
   and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on,
and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of
   the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash
   away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild
   hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount
   to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers
   they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St.
   Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on
   the roof
The prancing and pawing of each
   little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was
   turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with
   a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head
   to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with
   ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung
   on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just
   opening his pack.

His eyes - how they twinkled! his dimples
   how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like
   a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like
   a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white
   as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in
   his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head
   like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a little
   round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a
   bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right
   jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite
   of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of
   his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing
   to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight
   to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned
   with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of
   his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney
   he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team
   gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down
   of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove
   out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all
   a good-night!"

by Henry Livingston, Jr. (1823) *

Footnote …

A Christmas poem both in German and English …
When it was translated from the English to German in 1947 by Erich Kastner the lines in italics were not included. The reindeer names Donner and Blitzen are those used by Kastner.

 *see this Web link -

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Upon the Lonely Moor -Lewis Carroll

I met an aged, aged man
Upon the lonely moor:
I knew I was a gentleman,
And he was but a boor.
So I stopped and roughly questioned him,
“Come, tell me how you live!”
But his words impressed my ear no more
Than if it were a sieve.

He said, “I look for soap-bubbles,
That lie among the wheat,
And bake them into mutton-pies,
And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men”, he said,
“Who sail on stormy seas;
And that’s the way I get my bread--
A trifle, if you please.”

But I was thinking of a way
To multiply by ten,
And always, in the answer, get
The question back again.
I did not hear a word he said,
But kicked that old man calm,
And said, “Come, tell me how you live!”
And pinched him in the arm.

His accents mild took up the tale:
He said, “I go my ways,
And when I find a mountain-rill,
I set it in a blaze.
And thence they make a stuff they call
Rowland’s Macassar Oil;
But fourpence-halfpenny is all
They give me for my toil.”

But I was thinking of a plan
To paint one’s gaiters green,
So much the colour of the grass
That they could ne’er be seen.
I gave his ear a sudden box,
And questioned him again,
And tweaked his grey and reverend locks,
And put him into pain.

He said, “I hunt for haddocks’ eyes
Among the heather bright,
And work them into waistcoat-buttons
In the silent night.
And these I do not sell for gold,
Or coin of silver-mine,
But for a copper-halfpenny,
And that will purchase nine.

“I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
Or set limed twigs for crabs;
I sometimes search the flowery knolls
For wheels of hansom cabs.
And that’s the way” (he gave a wink)
“I get my living here,
And very gladly will I drink
Your Honour’s health in beer.”

I heard him then, for I had just
Completed my design
To keep the Menai bridge from rust
By boiling it in wine.
I duly thanked him, ere I went,
For all his stories queer,
But chiefly for his kind intent
To drink my health in beer.

And now if e’er by chance I put
My fingers into glue,
Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot
Into a left-hand shoe;
Or if a statement I aver
Of which I am not sure,
I think of that strange wanderer
Upon the lonely moor.

Lewis Carroll 1856

Upon the lonely moor … comments …

Lewis Carroll was motivated to write this poem after reading Wordsworth’s poem ‘Resolution and Independence’

S1 …definite arrogance and class distinction … judgement on sight … not interested in the aged man … and superficially a question is asked while not interested in any reply … will this colour future interaction

S2 … A nonsense reply … but it doesn’t matter … alternatively these may be the words that the non-listening gentleman hears (a translation) – because he doesn’t really care … the words from the aged man have a certain humility about them

S3 … The gentleman has a mathematical bent with interest in riddles (befitting of  Charles Hodgson … compare to Wordsworth’s poem when Wordsworth is thinking about poetry when talking to the leech gatherer)   … forces calm (a metaphorical kick?) then asks the same question … and interestingly pinches the poor fellow … showing arrogance and disrespect

S4 and S5 … again a lot of nonsense and non-comprehension …and again the Gentleman distracted by idle thoughts (Rowland’s Macassar Oil – a well-known Victorian beautifier for the hair - for the Upper Class) … the Gentleman again questions ... boxing ears and tweaking the aged man’s hair as though the poor fellow is a school boy and he a teacher

S6 and S7 … nonsense continued in the same vein with certain cynical references (waistcoat and hansom cabs) … the last two lines give recognition to the Gentleman (your Honour) in terms of offering a toast

S8 … the Gentleman’s thoughts are now complete (note - his thoughts are just as nonsensical) he can focus on the aged man and what he has heard … the only thing of any sense being the thank you toast … the question is - if he had listened or been more aware would he have heard different words … would he have been given different words?

S9 … whenever the Gentleman does something by mistake that is not fitting he thinks of the aged man who is living a non-fitting life at least to his frame of reference … and of course if he had been listening (or aware of what he was doing) would he have put his foot into the wrong shoe in the first place?

From the dictionary …

Gentleman … 1. a man of good breeding, education, and manners. 2. (as a polite form of speech) any man. 3. a male personal servant, or valet, especially of a man of social position: a gentleman's gentleman. 4. a man of good social standing by birth, especially one who does not work for a living.5. History a man above the rank of yeoman

Boor … 1. a rude or unmannerly person, 2. a peasant; a rustic.3. an illiterate or clownish peasant.4. a Dutch or German peasant.5. any foreign peasant.

Note ... See also Chapter 8 of Through the Looking Glass  … Alice talking to the White Knight with the text on which this was based

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Arthroscopic Attention

This image is of my knee 5 days after arthroscopic surgery.
                                    Arthroscopic Attention

                                    Asclepius please, I’m talking to thee
                                    I have a slight problem with a crook knee.
                                    My meniscus may need sort of mending
                                    because I’m getting pain when I’m bending.

                                    Asclepius came with a fibre-optic tube
                                    and from my knee his rod did protrude
                                    while the snake-eye inside peered at the view
                                    sending images back to the surgical crew.

                                    The video monitor blew-up the sad sight
                                    clearly portraying what wasn’t quite right
                                    then on the other side with a snip and a snap
                                    a surgical instrument removed all the crap.

                                    So if your meniscus is kind of sus
                                    repair is possible with minimum fuss!

                                    Richard Scutter 12 November 2011
Knee note ... This sonnet was written as a way of a thank you and to show it is a simple procedure that is not at all intrusive. It has been estimated that over four million arthroscopies were performed last year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Selected Personal Poems - eBook

Selected Personal Poems - eBook available

This was a small book produced in December 2010 containing a selection of some of my more personal poetry plus accompanied images dating from the time I first started writing poems in 2002. It was a home-produced handbound hardback book; a very limited edition produced primarily for family and friends. A high-quality production published by one by the name of Maureen Scutter.

This book is now available in eBook pdf format as a mirror copy with minor corrections ... primarily to disseminate further afield for family and friends, but should any other party be desirous (not delirious) for  a copy please send an Email request.

This link shows the first few pages of the eBook

Richard Scutter     December 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry

From The Poetry Society (UK) ...

Interesting that there is recognition of the importance of other art forms in this award.

Details of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry  (from The Poetry Society Website) ...

In 2010, for the second year, members of the Poetry Society and Poetry Book Society were invited to recommend a living UK poet, working in any form, who has made the most exciting contribution to poetry. The £5,000 prize is donated by Carol Ann Duffy, funded from the annual honorarium the Poet Laureate traditionally receives from HM The Queen. The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry seeks to recognise excellence in poetry, highlighting outstanding contributions made by poets to our cultural life.

“In order to thrive, poetry must always be open to the world it inhabits. This means that it’s vital for poets to engage with other art forms. A poet can learn as much about their craft from closely examining the work of other artists as they can from poetry itself.”
 Sarah Maguire, judge of The Ted Hughes Award 2011

Link ... The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry

(The close date for recommendations for the next award is 6 Janurary 2012)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Creating New Words

Creating new words or should I say crenewrds  ...

Joint words are often used in poems …blending two words together  … here is an example of joint-words used in the poetry of Ted Hughes…

Lines from River (1983) - August Evening (Ted Hughes)
And the river
cools early, star-touched. New moon,
not new leaf-curl tender, but crisp.
breathes on the sliding glass. The river
still beer-tinted from the barley disaster
is becoming wintry.

The linked word often qualifies …

Star-touched … the type of touch … we can see the river taking up the touch of star from the night sky

Leaf-curl tender an adjective defining the reflection of the moon using the image of new curled leaf

Beer-tinted … defines the colour of the tint (reflection) and links to barley (used for beer) ... a crop that perhaps could not be harvested

… why isn’t sliding glass joined?

But what about some new words … completely new words …

Lewis Caroll was famed for creating new words … combining words to give a double meaning from any implied hidden words … many of the nonsense variety …

Take his poem - The Hunting of the Snark …

Well you may well ask what a snark is … it is a barking snake animal that has immense pleasure at stealing the golden egg of the boojum bird … the Boojum bird is not all together pleased when this happens because it only lays one egg.

You may not know this bird … boojum is a combination of boo – to surprise and jump … which of course is what happens when you suddenly come across such a creature … one of the favourite occupations of the Boojum is to surprise the unsuspecting … originally an animal but over the years it has evolved to become a bird ... it made one unforgetable jump.

The snark was of course hunted for the golden egg … but the problem was … when that poor Baker man eventually found the snark … after that incredible sea journey to a far-flung land … the snark cleverly hatched  the golden egg and flew away as a boojum bird with the Baker firmly it it’s talons … never to be seen again … and when all the other B crew members came on the scene they found nothing … not even a few crumbs ... a very sad tale.

In another poem fuming and furious become frumious … what a wonderful word … for example, say that annoying person has just irritated you beyond the usual and you want to let off a little steam … you don’t know whether you are more fuming or more furious - whether you are fuming-furious or furious-fuming … but to give equal measure and to double-vent your feelings just retort that you are totally frumious!

I will now create a new word … crenewrd … (pronounced cre nude) … with defintion - a new word based on two or more esixting words.

… and here is a crenewrd based on slippery and sticky … if something is both slippery and sticky at the same time then of course it is totally …slikipity  … a blending of sounds that tend to get a little stuck in the mouth no matter how slick you are. 

... and every poewit should define at least one crenewrd. It is quite natural, inevitable … so don’t be shy … go on, have a try!

Footnote …

Some ‘real’ dictionary definitions (boojum and snark are actually in the dictionary).

Boojum …an imaginary dangerous animal … origin 1876 nonsense word coined by Lewis Caroll in the hunting of the snark

Snark … an imaginary animal (in connection with a task or referencing something that is elusive or impossible to achieve) origin … Lewis Caroll

Brunch … a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch … origin late 19th century blend

Motel … a roadside hotel designed primarily for motorists … origin 1920s blend of motor and hotel

Portmanteau word … a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others

Portmanteau … a large travelling bag … typically leather and opening into two equal parts … origin med 16th century from French porter= carry and manteau=mantle= a covering of a specified sort

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What is Poetry?

What is poetry … an interesting question that many find hard to define … mainly because of the split between prose and poetry … and often what falls into the prose bucket and what falla into the poetry bucket is very much a product of a definition imposed by the questioner based on personal taste.

A few weeks ago I watched a young student trying to explain to a Korean visitor with limited language what was meant by ‘poetry’ … she started by explaining rhyme by giving examples of words that rhymed … of course we all know that rhyme is not necessarily needed for poetry … but I guess for many rhyme and poetry have a strong association … and as children we all probably can remember a few nursery rhymes … so perhaps this was an understandable start to an explanation  … poetry is something different to the ordinary use of language … something special … perhaps a good place to open any discussion

… of course the poet has a range of many ‘tools’ available for use in manipulating language besides rhyme 

… the following are chapter headings on the nature of poetry … taken from the excellent book – Literature (Structure, Sound and Sense)1 by Laurence Perrine …

... detonation and connotation … imagery … figurative language – metaphor, personification, metonymy … symbol and allegory … paradox, overstatement, understatement, irony … allusion, meaning and idea … tone … musical devices … rhythm and meter … pattern … sound and meaning

… and within the structure of the text there are many poetic forms that can be followed to classify specific forms of poetry … the sonnet for example must have 14 lines to be a sonnet … (or must it - one of Shakespeare’s sonnets does not meet this requirement)

… giving an example immediately aids explanation … these six lines from Tennyson are used in the above book to explain the nature of poetry and as a contrast between the ordinary and the special …

The Eagle

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls

… but when none of the tools are used in the word formation, when there is no conformance to poetic structure can any work produced be considered poetry … a topic for discussion

… in what circumstances could such work qualify … or what attributes are needed beyond technique and structure … and are these attributes equally or of more importance? ... what makes the description of the eagle above so special?

Poetry for Dummies2 … defines poetry as the practice of creating artworks by using the material  - words (language) … but can language be enhanced in other ways in combination and is this poetry … there are many examples of image and words as an ‘art-piece’ … public sculpture and monuments …

… perhaps not in the strict sense … are words and language the sole tools of poetry? … and mixing with other art-forms detracts? … another topic for discussion …

Yes? No? Don’t know? Depends? … and does it really matter … and if you don’t like one side of the coin perhaps the other will bring you joy!

 … an image could be an excellent entry context to the words … on the other hand the image could destroy the personal image that would have been created in the mind of the reader by the words alone

… but to start at the very beginning …

Pure Poetry

I am
in the beginning, of no beginning
the word

the word beyond a word
of everything, in everything
pure, untainted

Life, colour-painted
a metaphor for poetry
infinite in beauty,  majesty

perfect … without rhyme or reason
God and love combined
as gold without season

Richard Scutter

… and a bottom line … poetry - your special words … filtered from the mass of the common … so perhaps it is very much up to you what words you place in your bucket, your top draw ... or is it your EBook reader.

Footnote …

1Literature (Structure, Sound and Sense) by Laurence Perrine
Southern Methodist University – ISBN 0-15-551100-9

2Poetry for Dummies
The Poetry Center (San Francisco State University)
John Timpane with Maureen Watts

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The last Night that She Lived - Emily Dickinson

The last Night that She lived
It was a Common Night
Except the Dying – this to Us
Made Nature different

We noticed smallest things –
Things overlooked before
By this great light upon our Minds
Italicized – as ‘twere.

As we went out and in
Between her final Room
And Rooms where Those to be alive
Tomorrow were, a Blame

That others could exist
While she must finish quite
A Jealousy for Her arose
So nearly infinite –

We waited while She passed –
It was a narrow time –
Too jostled were Our Souls to speak
At length the notice came.

She mentioned, and forgot –
Then lightly as a Reed
Bend to the water, struggled scarce –
Consented, and was dead –

And We – We placed her Hair –
And drew the Head erect –
And then an awful leisure was
Belief to regulate –

Emily Dickinson

Comments …

Life going on as normal or common in comparison … this one thing now stands out to make life different … pending death and the process of dying reaching a climax… something unfamiliar to the speaker

Implies a slowing down … and because of the intense focus there is now time to observe … little things unnoticed … the mind working hard illuminated by this energy … and at the same time caught noticing little insignificant things … (which of course may be remembered in association for many years) ... like words falling over (italics) ... seen differently

The in and out between the room of the dying … and the rooms of the living … the contrast with life and death … the blame that others will be living tomorrow brings such intense jealousy for death which is about to capture her … showing how much the person means to the living … or is needed by the living

A narrow time … total tunnel finish focus … no thoughts elsewhere …souls in turmoil … near death … the situation inhibiting conversation

Then the notice came (perhaps for those waiting outside) … the final moments and the last light (scarce) struggle with something wanted to be said and then left … and the inevitable consent

The physical things that needed to be done … and then time broadens into awful leisure in which the living must rely on their belief (religion) to regulate their loss

A moving poem perhaps written from personal experience from one close to her.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Have a Nice Day

Have a nice-day

Coming in at number 58
there were a few ‘have a nice-days’
ahead of me so I had ample time
to watch number 55 ‘have a nice-day’
but a shame she didn’t award him
a prize for bag fumbling.

Good, number 56 is ready for a
quick getaway, her purse undone.
How can she survive on a couple of pieces
of heart-lean lamb and a few carefully
chosen vegetables. Not to worry - I’m sure
in the end she will ‘have a nice-day’.

Number 57 has been so irritating
not so much her, but her kid. I don’t mind
obese people filling up the aisles before
filling their trolleys but their little doughnuts
should be controlled. Anyway she is about to
‘have a nice-day’.

(She should have said -
‘did you know your kid just picked his nose
in preference to chocolate’)

‘And how are you today Sir?’
Well, I had to say in no uncertain terms
that I was having a really ‘nice-day’, in fact
one of the nicest on record, while of course
waiting for her parting benediction …
… ‘have a fantastic-day’.

Nice-one, nice-one - a girl with
imagination! I can go home now
having achieved something, and
what can I say -  well, if you’re not
having a ‘nice-day’ have a  fantastic-day!’

Have a nice-day!

Richard Scutter 13 May 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Poppies in October - Sylvia Plath

Poppies in October

Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.
Nor the woman in the ambulance
Whose red heart blooms through her coat so astoundingly –

A gift, a love gift
Utterly unasked for
By a sky

Palely and flamily
Igniting its carbon monoxides, by eyes
Dulled to a halt under bowlers.

Oh my God, what am I
That these late mouths should cry open
In a forest of frosts, in a dawn of cornflowers.

Sylvia Plath (27 October 1962)

Analysis …

Nothing in sun and sky can match the poppy skirts (petals) in their colour … nor the woman (reference to herself) in the ambulance whose red heart is amazingly kept alive ... the woman close to death … others not so lucky ... she has been rescued and will survive.

This late showing is out of context with the season … and is a gift unasked for …and in this regard, SP could be talking about her astoundingly good luck in surviving her earlier suicide attempt … her red heart did bloom … how come she was saved? … how come she was given a second chance? … SP did not ask for this … to be re-born … at least she acknowledges this gift as a 'love-gift' ... even if she is not thankful.

… the medicos that saved her did not know her … see her red passion, her emotional state … how could they … they wear bowler hats … head-centric on their work

… and then the lament of not knowing who she is … the poppy in October … out of context … but still alive … she cries aloud for some understanding … why should she be alive in a ‘forest of frosts’ (in a deep tangle where growth is unlikely - how she saw her life) and in a ‘dawn of cornflowers’ (emerging against the bland mass of the common ... a little arogance perhaps)

Note ... this poem was written on SP’s last birthday (27 Oct 1962) … her 30th birthday … at a time when she was living by herself (with the two children) in London – separated from Ted Hughes  … she also wrote another poem ‘Ariel’ on the same day … so she had time to herself on this day to devote to poetry … and to question her existence … to question why she has survived out of season (like the poppy) … and to ask why she is still alive … and inferred - why is live so hard … it is a cry for an explanation from the deep intensity of her being for a meaning in her troubled world ... questioned in a state of mental unrest.

… and whether any physical poppies were around on this her birthday is open to question … they could be mind-poppies … (refer also to a previous poem ‘Poppies in   July’ written in Devon in the summer … when times were different.)

Here is a link to a recommended Site with 10 years of discussion material on the work of Sylvia Plath …

... and here is a poppy from the Australian spring flair taken at a recent open garden, a poppy very much in season ...


Footnote ...

Here is the text of the interview with Sylvia Plath by Peter Orr (of the British Council) - recorded on 30 October 1962 (just after her 30th birthday) ... Interview Sylvia Plath 30 Oct 1962

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Weather Signs - Janne D Graham


I take you there, falsely cheerful
Inconsequentially chattering about
Golden poplars and reddening maples:
Of autumn

I leave you there, apprehensive
To the care of stethoscopes
And surgery while long wet weeks
Drown me
In time

I watch you there, inert, bed-stretched
Leasing your life to pumps and plastic
As slivers of sun insinuate:
Days dredged
From night

You are released, the landscape
Of your self scalpel-scarred
Excoriated weather signs
Your time

You come home through fallen leaves
Browned and damp, unseeing,
Uncomprehending, as swirling squalls
Sweep in
Our winter

© Janne D Graham
1990 (edited 2011)

The above poignant poem was given to me by Janne, a member of our U3A poetry appreciation group. There is plenty of space for the reader to construct their own image to the situation and develop further after reading the final stanza. The weather sign of a good poem that it promotes lingering after-thought in the mind of the reader.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Door - to Poetry Perhaps

The Door

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog
s rummaging.
Maybe you
ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
if there
s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there
s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there
s only
the hollow wind,
even if nothing is there,
go and open the door.
At least there will be a draught.

Miroslav Holub

At a recent ‘Gods’ poetry meeting in Canberra local poet Moya Pacey opened her session reading the above poem by Miroslav Holub. She used it as an entry to her understanding of poetry ... poetry is a door to personal discovery ... the unknown within ... and by creating your own poetry there will be a discovery ... of something within that has yet to get voice ...

... of course many are just plain content to live within the safe square of known existence ... and I have known those who continually wall up there room ... eventually an earthquake may come through circumstance

... but it is not sufficient to just open the door you need to walk through! If you just stand there in the draught you will catch cold (no don’t run back inside) ... take a good look ... then take a few steps into that big unknown ... and if you are not into poetry maybe those steps are to another life altogether ... perhaps bungie jumping or walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge is more your thing!

Enjoy a new day - or should I say a day different from the yesterdays of your life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Writing Australia ... New Federal Website

Writing Australia

A top word on the written word … for those interested in writing ...

... Writing Australia was officially launched in August …

it is a federation of existing State Writers’ Centres in the ACT, NSW, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania … the co-operative nature means that the sum should be greater than its components … I note that WA and Qld are not yet in the fold ... I'm sure there are a few writers around in those States.

… members of the component organisations are automatically members of the Federal Body

… The foundation National Director is Mary Delahunty … an award winning journalist and involved with such ABC programs as Four Corners, The 7:30 Report and Sunday Afternoon

… the initial program includes – Writing Australia Awards, Writing Australia Tours (where top writers give classes and workshops), and a WebSite which gives a central portal with information on writing happenings and literary events.

… the Website link is …

Friday, October 7, 2011

Love Sonnet LXVII – Pablo Neruda

 LXVII – Love Sonnets of Pablo Neruda
(first in spanish)
La gran illuvia del sur cae sobre Isla Negra
como una sola gota transparente y pesada,
el mar abre sus hojas frias y la recibe,
la tierra aprende el humedo destino de una cupa.

Alma mia, dame en tus besos el agua
salobre de estos meses, la miel del territorio,
la fragancia mojada por mils labios del cielo,
la paciencia sagrada del mar en el invierno.

Algo nos illama, todas las puertas se abren solas,
relata el agua un largo rumor a las ventanas,
crece el cielo hacia abajo tocando las raices,

y asi teje y desteje su red celeste el dia
con tiempo, sal, susurros, crecimientos, caminos,
una mujer, un hombre, y el invierno en la tierra.

Pablo Neruda (1959)

LXVII – Love Sonnets of Pablo Neruda
an english translation

The great rain from the South falls on 1Isla Negra
like a single drop, lucid and heavy,
the sea opens its cool leaves and receives it,
2the earth learns as a cup to fulfill its wet destiny.

Give me your kisses, water to my soul,
salty from these months, the honey of the fields,
fragrance dampened by the sky’s thousand lips,
the sacred patience of the sea in winter.

Something calls to us, all the doors turn
open by themselves, the rain repeats its rumour to the windows,
the sky grows downward till it touches the roots:

so the day weaves and unweaves  its heavenly net,
with time, salt, whispers, growth, 3 pathways,
a woman, a man, and winter on the earth.

Notes ...
 1Isla Negra … Black Island … a rocky outcrop near Neruda’s third and favorite home in Chile also of the same name
2 I have based this translation on that by Stephen Tapscott except for the fourth and fifth lines … Stephen Tapscott translates these lines as …
the earth learns how a wineglass fulfills
its wet destiny. In your kisses, my soul, give me the water,
 ... and he breaks the fourth line into the start of the second stanza
3 ST translates this as roads … I prefer pathways
(Reference: Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda - Translated by Stephen Tapscott ISBN 0 292 76029 9.)


You don't have to know anything about the life of Pablo Neruda, or what it is like to experience rain in Chile - one of the wettest and driest of places - but context of course always helps give deeper meaning to any reading. However, what is more important is the translation - assuming of course a translation is needed. If spanish is your native tongue then you will understand this poem to the full in that language - if not you will have to rely on how this work has been represented by the translator. I have chosen the words above that I like after reading a couple of translations.

Love and the sea - inseparable natural constants  ... and the wait knowing that the rain will come ... that inherent sense ... as certain as life and death.

From Wikipedia ... On Neruda's house Isla Negra ... It is about 85 km to the south of Valparaíso and 110 km to the west of Santiago. It was his favorite house and where he and his third wife, Matilde Urrutia spent the majority of their time in Chile. Neruda, a lover of the sea and all things maritime, built the home to resemble a ship with low ceilings, creaking wood floors, and narrow passageways. A passionate collector, every room has a different collection of bottles, ship figureheads, maps, ships in bottles, and an impressive array of shells, which are located in their own "Under the Sea" room.

A national treaure ... it is on my list of poetry places to visit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

'Edge' - Judith Wright's Braidwood home.

Readers may be interested in Judith Wright's property 'Edge' at Braidwood. Below is a photo taken when Meredith McKinney took a walk through the grounds at the 'Two Fires Festival' in 2005. It is now in private hands but I am told they are friendly. A link to more images ...  'Edge' - at Braidwood.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Wattle Tree - Judith Wright

The tree knows four truths -
earth, water, air and the fire of the sun.
The tree holds four truths in one.
Root, limb and leaf unfold
out of the seed and these rejoice
till the tree dreams it has a voice
to join four truths in one great world of gold.

-Oh that I knew that word!
I should cry loud, louder than any bird.
Oh let me live for ever, I would cry.
For that word makes immortal what would wordless die;
and perfectly, and passionately,
welds love and time into the seed,
till tree renews itself and is for ever tree –

Then upward from the earth
                   and from the water,
Then inward from the air
                   and the cascading light
poured gold, till the tree trembled with its flood.

Now from the world’s four elements I make
my immortality;  it shapes within the bud.
Yes, now I bud, and at last I break
into the truth I had no voice to speak:
into a million images of the Sun, my God.

From The Two Fires 1955
The Collected Poems

© Judith Wright

The four prime elements (earth, water, air and fire) ... are needed by the tree ... (and define the world). But what is this process (love) that creates 'a voice' from a seed ... oh that it could be known ... the key to immortality

In the beginning was the word ... the start of the process ... a never ending process as the tree continues to renew itself ... regeneration ... immortality ... for the wattle the transformation is to a 'flood of gold' ... (gold =  god with love inserted).

Like the tree ... in likewise fashion to nature ... JW defines her immortality ... and like the wattle to the myriad images of the sun ... her metaphorical God ... the truth could not be expressed by her voice (but perhaps by her poetry ... and perhaps by becoming her 'natural self').

Footnote ...
The image: a wattle in full spring bloom, near the ANU Canberra.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Trapped Prayer

(with thanks to John Shaw Neilson)

The old man sat beside me.  I
  heard not what his old ears could hear:
 a sound, he said, from a far-off land
    comes to me, faint, but clear.

Is it, I said, from East or West?
  The soul of a trapped man
who with a firm voice spoke out loud
  the deceit that was deep of his clan.

Was he, I said, born to the truth.
  that in the mad escape of a silent day
he made by his words known
  the wrongs he had to betray.

Listen, the old man said, there are
  no words, no message comes to me;
but it is almost a voice that stirs
  like the murmuring wind in a tree.

Does he, I said, speak of winter cold
  and the isolation of a damp cell
that in the full depth of night
  seek an escape from his hell?

Is he so destroyed by fowl deeds
  that he aches for your ear.
Does he now seek communion
  to off-set his fear.

Listen! The old man said.  For all
  your needless talk you do not see,
there is a sound, a knock, a tap,
  this evening addressing me.

Is it, I said, words of love
  imperishable, wrapped with disdain
that move as a frightened dove
  out of the dark and the rain?

Is it the brave beat of his heart
  too willingly pierced to make change?
Is it the last words that he uttered
  that restlessly fly into range?

Silence! the old man said.  Don’t talk,
  don’t talk any more, don’t you see
tire me no longer now,
  for his pain is crippling me.

Richard Scutter 15 June 2011

Footnote - to recognise 50 years of Amnesty